The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have returned to the big screen. Following a seven-year-hiatus, Paramount has rebooted the series with the animated Mutant Mayhem. The Ninja Turtles have been around since the 1980s, and after all this time, have continued to keep a very dedicated fanbase.
After starting out as a parody of superhero comics, the Ninja Turtles carved their own path and offered fans an alternative to standard superhero fare. The franchise, like many others, featured New York-based heroes who were exposed to a radioactive substance, but unlike others, featured a unique blend of martial arts, non-human characters, and constant pizza references. Join us as we have a look at the highest-grossing movies in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.
Turtles Forever, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie were not released in theaters, so have been omitted from this list.
7 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023) — $51.5M+
The animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem has grossed over $51 million thus far. It has become the first theatrically-released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film to not receive a Rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics and audiences alike have praised Mutant Mayhem for its heart, well-selected voice cast, captivating art style, and spectacular musical score. Mutant Mayhem has obviously not attracted the same level of attention as Barbie and Oppenheimer, but the film may have the legs to become a box office success.
6 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993) — $54.4M
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III was the lowest-grossing and final film in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trilogy. Marketed using the tagline, “Without a map, without a clue, without a pizza,” the film sent the Turtles back in time to late 16th-Century Japan.
Shredder did not make an appearance in the film, but neither did any other villains from the comics or 1987 animated series. The film instead introduced English trader Walker as its villain, who has been regarded as one of the worst villains in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history.
5 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) — $78.7M
Released only a year after the original live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Secret of the Ooze toned down the violence of the previous film by having the Turtles mostly fight with their fists (Leonardo’s katanas and Raphael’s sais were not exactly non-lethal weapons). The Shredder returned in the sequel to enact his revenge on the Turtles, using the radioactive ooze that mutated the Turtles to transform himself into the Super Shredder. The Secret of the Ooze also introduced the first live-action versions of Tokka and Rahzar.
4 TMNT (2007) — $95.6M
2007’s TMNT was the first animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, assembling an impressive voice cast that included the likes of Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Arnold Taylor, and Nolan North. The Turtles were shown as having grown distant from each other since Shredder’s defeat, but their brotherly bond was strengthened over the course of the film. While still a family film, director-writer Kevin Munroe appealed to a more mature audience by avoiding “dumbing [TMNT] down to be too much ‘Cowabunga.'”
TMNT grossed over $90 million at the box office and was initially planned to be the start of a trilogy. A sequel never materialized due to Munroe departing Imagi Animation Studios, the studio laying off many of its employees, and Imagi filing for bankruptcy following the commercial failure of 2009’s Astro Boy. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise co-creator Peter Laird told MTV about his interest in a live-action follow-up to TMNT, but the project ultimately evolved into the 2014 reboot at Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures.
3 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) — $202M
In 1990, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles broke the record for the highest-grossing independent film of all time (via The Hollywood Reporter). Major Hollywood studios scoffed at the chances of a film centering on pizza-loving, ninjutsu-practicing, sewer-dwelling mutant turtles becoming a success. However, they were quickly proven wrong as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles grossed $202 million on a budget of $13.5 million and became the ninth-highest-grossing film of 1990.
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) — $245.6M
A sequel to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Out of the Shadows was the first film to feature the TMNT supervillain Krang. The film also introduced Stephen Amell’s Casey Jones and new versions of Bebop and Rocksteady. Reception to Out of the Shadows leaned towards the negative, and the film grossed about 50% less than its predecessor. Plans for a sequel were immediately scrapped, resulting in the film franchise being put on ice until 2023’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.
1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) — $493.3M
The Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has held on to its spot as the highest-grossing TMNT movie of all time (so far). The 2014 reboot moved away from the turtle costumes of the nineties, creating the new Ninja Turtles with performance capture CGI. Although the film was a box office success, the film was widely considered to be a weaker entry in the franchise and has largely been forgotten. 2023’s Mutant Mayhem has received positive reviews but is unlikely to come anywhere near Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ box office.